The North Orange County Service Planning Area (North SPA) received $12,062,300 in Homeless Emergency Aid Program (HEAP) funding to open a Navigation Center in Buena Park and Placentia. The proposed Buena Park site, or "Navigation Center", will be at 7101 Lincoln Avenue.
For more information, read the news release here.
For more information on the County's Service Planning Area's (SPA)
City Council Meeting
Tuesday, April 9, 2019
Next opportunity to participate as Council discusses this topic.
Questions & Answers
1. What is the proposed Buena Park Navigation Center?
The proposed Buena Park Navigation Center ("Center") will be a transitional, temporary homeless shelter facility at 7101 Lincoln Avenue. Formerly a furniture store, the blighted vacant 22,500 square-foot commercial building could serve as a transitional shelter, initially offering 100 beds in addition to some office and meeting spaces.
The proposed facility could offer what is known as transitional housing for those living on the streets in Buena Park and providing a stable setting with healthcare and other services. The long-term goal is to provide clients with the resources they need to permenantly transition off the streets.
2. Why do we need a Navigation Center?
The Buena Park Navigation Center (“Center”) is one of two new centers proposed to serve the North Orange County Service Planning Area (North SPA). The North SPA is comprised of the cities of Anaheim, Brea, Buena Park, Cypress, Fullerton, La Habra, La Palma, Los Alamitos, Orange, Placentia, Villa Park, Stanton and Yorba Linda.
By identifying these two new centers, the City of Buena Park and the North SPA cities will comply with the federal mandate of the Honorable David O. Carter, United States District Court Judge, resolving what is known as the Orange County Catholic Worker lawsuit, which carried the risk of cities losing the ability to enforce against anti-camping laws if additional shelters or alternative housing were not provided.
The Center, along with the proposed site in the City of Placentia and two sites in the City of Anaheim, addresses a comprehensive regional solution in North Orange County to provide support to homeless neighbors, including needed services. It also addresses the growing impacts of homelessness on city parks, streets, and neighborhoods by ensuring that anti-camping laws can be enforced.
3. What were the criteria staff used for the site's selection?
The criteria used for site selection was: 1) available sites in the City; and 2) existing properties that met the space requirements needed for a shelter facility.
4. Was that criteria created by the SPA, City staff, or Judge Carter?
Criteria was not created by the North Service Planning Area (“SPA”) or Judge Carter, but rather by City staff. Staff was conscious of state and local land use laws when evaluating potential sites. Navigational centers are considered a “residential use” under state law, and accordingly only locations free from contamination and otherwise “fit for human habitation” were considered.
5. When was the site at 7101 Lincoln Avenue acquired by the City?
The City closed escrow on the property on October 12, 2018.
6. How much did the City pay for the site?
The purchase price of the property was $3.6 million.
7. How is the Center funded?
In November 2018, the North SPA was awarded $12,062,300 in Homeless Emergency Aid Program (“HEAP”) funding from the State of California via the Orange County Continuum of Care Board. This funding is designed to provide direct assistance to cities and counties to address homelessness. The Center will be funded with $6,412,300 of the HEAP grant funds, as well as additional funding from the participating North SPA cities and grant funds.
8. Is there a guaranteed revenue stream and staffing plan included in the MOUs (Memorandum of Understanding)?
With respect to funding, staff anticipates the City would pay a small percentage of ongoing operating costs. As proposed, Senate Bill 2 (SB-2) funds will pay approximately 41.6% of operating costs, the County will pay approximately 54.7%, and the cities comprising the North Spa paying the remaining 3.7%. Of the portion to be paid by North Spa cities, Buena Park will be responsible for approximately 12.69% (approximately $150,000.) Low-mod housing funds would be available such that there wouldn’t necessarily be an impact to the General Fund. Please note that these figures are estimates at this time, and subject to adjustment; but the formula for allocating these costs among the parties will be memorialized in the North SPA Memorandum of Understanding (“MOU”), and applied throughout the term of the MOU.
9. What oversight is there for how the funds are spent?
Funding and expenditures will be subject to several layers of oversight. The SB-2 funds and funds contributed by the County will be subject to grant reporting, reconciliation, and auditing from outside agencies. Funds contributed by individual cities will be approved by their respective city councils as part of their annual budget process, and the City Managers of the North SPA cities must approve revisions to the program budget. Moreover, all revenues and expenditures of the program will be subject to an annual audit prepared by a licensed professional in accordance with government auditing standards.
10. Could the City afford to run its own shelter for its own homeless based on the homeless census numbers?
It is unlikely that the City could operate its own homeless shelter for City residents only. The City does not have sufficient General Fund dollars in addition to the anticipated SB-2 funding from the State sufficient to build and operate a shelter. This option would eliminate the Homeless Emergency Aid Program (HEAP) funding in the amount of $6.4 million that was received from the County via the State as these funds were awarded as part of the funding for a regional homeless shelter.
In terms of population, a total of 98 unsheltered individuals were living in Buena Park at the time City Net performed their point-in-time count. This represents approximately 13.7% of the total unsheltered population in the North SPA.
11. When would the shelter be opened?
It is anticipated that the shelter will be open mid-2019.
12. Who can use the shelter?
The beds at this location will be designated for North SPA cities only, but "host cities" (including Buena Park) would have priority. The center will only receive clients on a referral-basis; walk-ins will not be permitted.
13. Who will manage the Center?
The North SPA cities will select an experienced service provider to operate and manage the Center, similar to the Bridges at Kramer facility. This will ensure minimal impact to the surrounding community. A management, operations, and public safety plan will be developed to guide the operation of the Center.
14. What hours will the Center operate?
The site will be staffed around-the-clock with strict operating requirements. The Buena Park Police Department will oversee the development of a detailed security plan during the public process. Typically, intakes and discharges (by arranged transportation only) will take place during normal business hours.
15. What would the average length of stay for an individual be at the shelter while looking for available housing?
Based on discussions with Mercy House regarding their current operations at similar facilities, the average length of stay is 79 days. The projections for available housing to facilitate their transfer continually fluctuate. However, Mercy House and their affiliates have strong ties to permanent supportive housing within the region.
16. What will be done to ensure homeless can only leave by shuttle or vehicle and not by foot?
Based on conversations with Mercy House about current operations at similar facilities, clients are not permitted to enter or exit the facility by foot. Instead, transportation must be arranged by motor vehicle (i.e. shelter shuttle, Uber, Lyft, OCTA bus, etc.) Staff also plans on providing routine updates to the City Council on the progress of the shelter before, during, and after commencement of operations.
17. What is being done to improve security including inter-agency response to security calls on the border adjacent to the shelter?
Staff is currently working on improving collaborations with the Anaheim Police Department to ensure that incidences that occur in and around the facility are dealt with in an expedient and efficient manner that protects the safety of the surrounding neighborhood as well as the facility’s staff and clients.
18. What site improvements will be done?
Approximately, $3,912,000 of the HEAP funding will be invested in site improvements. An exterior and interior site improvement plan has not been developed yet. The City of Buena Park will oversee the design and permit process once the public process has been completed.
19. What will be done to ensure the surrounding business community is improved and residential home values and safety are protected?
Staff is working diligently with the City Attorney and other North SPA members on the MOU that will ensure that the surrounding community is protected from any secondary effects of the proposed facility. This will include intensive design of facility improvements, the installation of an 8-ft. wall, 24-hour security, and service provider staff available on-site around the clock surveying the surrounding areas. Staff notes that Buena Park will have final authority and control of on-site security requirements and procedures, which will be developed in corroboration with the operator selected for the facility.
20. Could there be a cap on the number of beds yet still receive funding?
Staff is unaware of a specific number of beds that the center needs to provide in order to receive the HEAP funding. However, the HEAP application proposed a center that included up to 100 beds.
21. What other specific location options (i.e. motel, industrial building, woman's club building, etc.) could Council still consider?
The City Council could still consider other potential sites. However, a recent search of available industrial properties located only one property for sale with the remaining offers lease only. Leasing of a facility would not be ideal due to the necessary capital improvements and associated expenditures incurred to develop the site. The Buena Park Woman’s Club (BPWC) site is City-owned. However, the building and site are too small and would not be conducive to the target number to serve as well as the wrap-around services anticipated to be needed.
22. Why wasn't another location in an industrial area considered?
As mentioned earlier, staff did look at other locations in the City, including industrial zoned properties. However, there were no properties available for sale in an industrial zone back then, or even now, that fit the space requirements needed.
23. Which shelters were visited by either the City Council or staff?
The City Council and staff have visited Bridges at Kraemer Place in Anaheim, The Link in Santa Ana, and the interim site located at 2040 S. State College in Anaheim opened within the past few months.
24. Who operates these existing shelters in Orange County and would they be operating the proposed shelter?
Mercy House and Illumination Foundation operate most of the shelters in the County and they would both be strongly considered for the proposed shelter.
25. What will be done to ensure the surrounding community receives further information about the details of the proposed shelter?
Staff will be providing a notification similar to the one distributed for the open house prior to the February 12, 2019, community meeting. Staff plans to notice the same 1,000-ft. radius, but is exploring the utilization of another form of noticing such as a door-to-door walker. Additionally, staff will be posting the meeting on all of the City’s social media platforms.
Additional FAQs added 2/12/19:
26. How close is the proposed shelter to area schools?
According to Google Maps, Centralia Elementary is 0.4 miles, Danbrook Elementary is 0.6 miles, Western High School is 0.7 miles, and Orangeview Junior High School is 0.9 miles.
27. Has there been an increase in crime or calls for service as a result of the Bridges at Kraemer Place shelter opening?
According to Anaheim PD, there has not been an increase in crime or calls for service in the surrounding area.
28. Will the proposed shelter be City-funded or privately-funded?
The proposed shelter will be funded with State funding initially. Ongoing costs will be funded through grants and funding from the 14 North SPA cities. The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) being drafted between the North SPA cities details cost allocation.
29. What role will the fire department have in the new shelter?
The Orange County Fire Authority (OCFA) would respond to emergency medical or fire calls to the proposed site like they would to any other address in the area. OCFA will also play a role ensuring the building improvements adequately address the threat of fire in the building, as they would with any other structure in the City.
30. How will individuals with mental health concerns be treated?
The County of Orange offers a system of care for these individuals and those with mental health issues will be linked to those resources.
31. How will police response times be impacted by the proposed shelter?
The Police Department does not see any impact to response times as a result of the proposed shelter.
32. Will volunteers be allowed at the shelter?
The City will retain an operator to run the shelter. The operator will determine the need for volunteers after the shelter has opened.
33. If the shelter is full and running at capacity, are the police still able to enforce the anti-camping laws?
Yes, if the proposed Buena Park shelter is at capacity, the police will locate a bed available in another North SPA shelter for that individual.
34. How are individuals referred to a shelter? Who is eligible?
Referrals to the shelter are typically made by the homeless liaison officers in the Police Department or the street outreach team led by personnel with CityNet and the County of Orange.
35. Is there any chance the back wall of the proposed site will be raised from its current height?
Yes, staff has considered raising the wall to 8-10 feet to provide delineation and privacy.
36. Were there any efforts made to locate vacant or excess land for sale and lease modular buildings as Anaheim did with the Lewis Street campus?
City staff did research available properties but did not identify land better suited for this purpose and use.
37. During the January 8, 2019 City Council Meeting, City staff mentioned an industrial site near the Fullerton Airport that was considered and rejected due to contamination. Can the site address be made public along with an estimate to clean up the site to a level of habitability?
Staff did identify a site located at 8401 Commonwealth Avenue. However, safety issues related to the airport, contamination of the site and other challenges with the property led staff to identify other options.
38. Did the City ever consider they may not have the right location identified for a homeless navigation center at 7101 Lincoln Avenue?
The City has considered this notion and City staff believes there will be various challenges with any potential locations for this type of facility.
39. Who on the city payroll will monitor compliance and accountability of the company responsible to manage the proposed site and what costs are projected for these employees?
The Police Department and Executive staff at the City will review the performance of the operator of the navigation center regularly. Costs to run the shelter annually are estimated at approximately $1.5 million.
40. If HEAP funds have been approved for the project, when will the City Council vote to move forward on the proposed site?
At this time, city staff has not identified a date for the Council to officially take action or formally vote on the proposed site. The Council and staff will continue to receive input as part of the public engagement phase.
Additional FAQ's added 03/01/2019:
41. Will the proposed Navigation Center take homeless from other cities like Cypress, Los Alamitos, and La Palma?
Yes, the proposed Navigation Center would be a regional North SPA facility and homeless from those cities would be eligible for referral. However, there are other North SPA facilities where that individual may be referred also.
42. Is the proposed Navigation Center location zoned for residential?
No, the current zoning of the proposed site is Community Shopping, or CS.
43. How will you be addressing healthcare for the homeless, particularly mental health and substance abuse issues? Will those services be provided?
Those needing addiction and mental health assistance will receive treatment from programs offered through the County of Orange and other agencies.
44. Which organizations can refer clients to this facility?
Referrals will be provided primarily by local law enforcement jurisdictions and homeless engagement partners in the North SPA.
45. If you receive significant opposition to the proposed shelter, will you consider an alternate location?
City staff has identified, and will continue to monitor, available properties that become available and are suitable for the proposed center.
46. Why are there still homeless when there are established shelters like Kraemer Place?
There are an estimated 5,000 homeless living in Orange County, many of those here in North Orange County. There are still far fewer beds available than needed but the North SPA has made significant progress over the past several months.
47. Anaheim has 350,000 residents and Buena Park has 80,000. Why is Buena Park doing this when we are much smaller?
The City of Anaheim has opened several shelters in their City recently. They will have a few hundred shelter beds available for those in need. The cities of Buena Park and Placentia are planning to open centers in the North SPA also. The North SPA cities are sharing in this responsibility.
48. What is the City doing with the lot on Lincoln and Beach that’s been empty for years? Has that site been considered?
This property is actually in the City of Anaheim. The City of Anaheim has identified other locations for their homeless centers.
49. North SPA consists of 13 cities and that would be 7.6923% per city if equally spread. Why is Buena Park estimating to pay 12.69% of the 3.7% not covered by the state/county? This seems off, especially when we will be housing the transitional shelter in our own city.
Cost related to site acquisition, building improvements, and the first year of operations will be paid through HEAP funds received from the County via the State. A very complex cost sharing formula is being added into the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the 13 cities that distributes ongoing operational costs fairly.
50. How much does the City stand to profit from taking on this project and low income funds?
The City does not anticipate any direct financial benefit as a result of the proposed shelter project. The proposed project is being considered to address the homeless issue, not for monetary gain.
51. Is the proposed shelter location a “done deal” or are there options for another location?
The City Council has not officially directed staff to move forward the project. If another location were to become available that met the needs of the project, staff would consider those sites as well.
52. Has anyone from City Hall visited an actual functioning Navigation Center?
Yes, staff members and several Council Members have visited centers very similar to the one being proposed. Specifically, centers in Anaheim and Santa Ana were visited.
53. Why were residents not informed earlier about this homeless Navigation Center?
The public was informed shortly after the City acquired the site about potential plans for this project. As stated during the meetings, this site was attractive for a number of reasons and potentially for a number of different uses.
54. Will there be enough parking considering it is already crowded on streets and surrounding areas?
A site plan for the project has not been officially developed. City staff believes there will be ample onsite parking for guests and employees. Parking details will be worked out during the design phase, should the project move forward.
55. Is anyone asking where the homeless are from (i.e. another state)? Can we try to send them home?
Yes, the City’s homeless liaison officers in the Police Department and CityNet’s street engagement team are in regular contact with the homeless in our community. They have built relationships with many of the homeless on the street. If our homeless are willing to be connected to family elsewhere, we typically can arrange for it. However, the studies in Buena Park indicate that roughly 3 out of 4 homeless in our community either went to school in the City or refer to the Buena Park area as home.
56. What happens to those that don’t want to go to the Center? Will laws be enforced?
Anti-camping laws can be enforced when there is an available bed in the area for those in need.
57. Why the rush to open the Navigation Center by mid-2019 (according to online info)?
There is no target date for the shelter to open. However, there is an expectation from the County and State for the project to get underway relatively soon. Staff expects the design and construction to be expedited in an effort to provide assistance sooner rather than later.
58. Why does Buena Park need to provide the location instead of Stanton?
The City of Stanton was part of the discussion process when North SPA cities identified potential navigation center sites in their communities. All sites were considered and evaluated.
59. Will you have space dedicated at the Navigation Center for a health, dental, and behavioral health clinic like the one being built at Bridges?
These types of services will be offered to those at the proposed Center.
60. Is there any intent or plan to convert the corner of Knott and Lincoln into a low-income secondary housing community as part of this transitional plan?
No, there is no plan for this type of housing community on this corner at this time.
61. Why does the City of Buena Park feel the need to support the surrounding cities?
The cities of Buena Park and Placentia identified viable sites that met the space needs requirement for 100-150 bed shelters. The City of Anaheim has recently opened up multiple shelters. Other cities in the North SPA offer various services or shelters as well. Buena Park and Placentia currently do not offer these services and felt the need to share in this responsibility.
62. Buena Park is responsible in providing shelter beds for 60% of the homeless. The homeless count is 98 people, which would be 59 beds. Why can’t the City provide only 100 beds to Buena Park residents?
The proposed project would be a regional Navigation Center for the North SPA and funding was allocated with the understanding the proposed project would service the North SPA cities and not just Buena Park.
63. In nearby cities, Lincoln east of Valley View is viewed as unsafe due to the high number of homeless and loitering. Why isn’t the City putting more effort into cleaning up the streets rather than inviting homeless persons into our area?
The City dedicated two officers and a street outreach consultant that had a renewed focus on addressing the homeless issue over the past 3 years. Homeless numbers have improved over that time frame and the proposed Navigation Center would help street homeless numbers continue to decrease.